- July 20, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
SHORTAGES of staff in the Attorney General’s office has stalled crafting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which has resulted in the Ministry of Justice missing the October 2019 deadline to finish drafting it.
The Deputy Attorney General Nelson Diaz last week told Parliament that he only has four junior lawyers in the drafting department to work on the Mines and Minerals Act amendments which are in any case highly technical.
Diaz had appeared before the Mines Portfolio Committee chaired by Edmond Mkaratigwa together with the Ministry of Mines and Mining development Secretary Onesimo Mazayi Moyo to speak on the Mines and Minerals Act amendments.
MPs said Diaz is responsible for its delay and missing the October 2019 deadline to draft the Bill.
Moyo had told the committee that the Mines and Minerals Act amendments are pivotal for investor confidence into the country.
“This Bill is extremely important in attracting investment in the Mines sector into the country because if investors do not see us having a stable legal environment they will wait until the Bill is crafted to see if the environment is favourable,” Moyo said.
“It brings clarity to stakeholders and helps the country to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 and will also pave way for the implementation of the mining cadastre system and increase the security of tenure and end mining title disputes which are untenable at the moment.
“The amendments will also bring competitiveness of Zimbabwe as an investment destination and will complement other pieces of legislation,” he said.
Moyo then told the committee that the snail’s pace in completing its drafting was not the problem of the Mines Ministry as they had submitted their draft to the Justice Ministry which is the one responsible for the delay. The Mines secretary also said failure to amend the Mines and Minerals Act as soon as possible will stall crafting of other Acts like the Precious Stones Bill, the Gold Trade Bill and the Exploration Bill.
MPs then began to blast Diaz saying he was the man responsible for the delay in the Mines and Minerals Act amendments.
But Diaz told the committee that it was not his fault as he only has four junior lawyers to do drafting in his department. He also said that his department was also inundated with several other laws that needed drafting like the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill and they Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill which are now before Parliament.
“I apologise for the delay. We have many challenges in the office where my colleagues are young and inexperienced and we have a team of four dedicated to drafting. Important Bills are also coming up for drafting,” Diaz said.
Legal advisor in the Justice Ministry Jacqueline Munyonga added that the drafters had been booked at hotels in order to move with speed on working on the Bill and that they were now halfway through with the drafting of the Mines and Minerals Act.
This further angered MPs with Bikita West MP Elias Musakwa saying, “the deadline as per our Kariba resolutions was October 20 2019 and you missed that deadline and now you are coming here to tell us that you have done 50% of the work. It means you need another year to have a breakthrough.”
Other MPs accused Diaz and his team of wasting money by being booked at hotels and suggested that the Justice Ministry must be given two weeks of which after that they must report to Parliament that they have completed drafting the Bill.
“If I gave the impression that in the next 14 days we will be finished then I am sorry. I cannot say we will finish in two weeks or one month, but with the level of work we achieved last week if we have another two weeks we can do a lot,” Diaz said.
Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka ended up suggesting that the committee was barking at the wrong man and the Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney-General Prince Machaya must be summoned before Parliament to explain the delays.
Tjhis article first appeared in the 13 July 2020 Mining Newsweek issue soft copy